If Juan Lagares were as good with his bat as his glove, he would be a star. No, make that a superstar.
LAGARES: Gold Glove winner. (AP)
Seriously, he’s that good, and it became official around baseball last night when he won the Gold Glove Award, presumably the first of many.
“I’m very happy and excited,’’ Lagares told ESPN. “It’s a very special honor to win a Gold Glove for the Mets. I’m proud to win one this early in my career.’’
He’s the Mets’ third Gold Glove center fielder, joining Carlos Beltran and Tommie Agee, and the first to win the award since Beltran and third baseman David Wright in 2008.
He’s got a way to go to break the franchise record of six by Keith Hernandez. Other Mets to win are Ron Darling, Rey Ordonez, Bud Harrelson, Doug Flynn and Robin Ventura.
Among the “new’’ statistics, runs-saved is one of the most important for a defender, perhaps the most important. In that category, Lagares was second among outfielders with 28, impressive considering the leader, Atlanta’s Jason Heyward, played in 372 more innings and saved only four more.
Although he improved at the plate, the Mets still want him to improve his on-base percentage and cut down on strikeouts, and if he does so he could be a proficient leadoff hitter.
He’s got the defense down, said manager Terry Collins in a statement released by the team: “It’s to the point that I’m shocked when Juan doesn’t catch every ball hit to the outfield. He makes everything look so easy. After some of his catches, I would turn to my coaching staff and say ‘How did he do that?’ ’’
The answer is talent.
Championship caliber teams are built up the middle, and the Mets are on their way with Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate, their young pitching staff and Lagares. The double-play combination is a work in progress.
Lagares is one of two Mets finalists for regular season awards. The other is pitcher Jacob deGrom for Rookie of the Year.
Those awards will be announced next week.
ON DECK: Mets’ 2015 uniforms.